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Officers Patrol Kingston as Violence Eases

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Associated Press

Police and soldiers patrolled the streets of Kingston today, under orders from the prime minister not to confront protesters against increased fuel prices unless they were looting or damaging property.

Snipers and rock throwers harassed police and soldiers overnight as they tried to clear roadblocks put up by the protesters the day before. Three people were killed Tuesday in unrest that spread throughout the island.

Many of the barricades remained in place today, making it difficult for people to return to schools, businesses and public offices, which were shut down during Tuesday’s violence.

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Winter is peak tourist time in Jamaica, but authorities said none of the estimated 12,000 visitors on the Caribbean island were reported injured in any of the disturbances.

All international flights were scheduled today. Some had been canceled Tuesday during the protests.

Sporadic gunshots continued through the night, but police reported no new injuries.

The Jamaica Defense Force and police patrolling the capital were under orders from Prime Minister Edward Seaga not to confront protesters unless they were looting or damaging property. Police reported no looting overnight.

Police said officers killed one man in Kingston after he fired on police at a roadblock Tuesday and that a motorist in Kingston was shot and killed by someone in another car. A third fatality was a man killed by gunfire from a van in the town of Maypen, 30 miles northwest of here, police said.

A police officer in Kingston said hundreds of people spent the night at police stations because they couldn’t get home.

The protests, which apparently began spontaneously, came less than 12 hours after announcement of price increases, the latest in a three-year series of austerity measures by the pro-U.S. government of Seaga.

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Gasoline prices were raised from the equivalent of $1.80 a gallon to $2.19; kerosene from 74 cents to 80 cents, and a 100-pound tank of propane gas from $20.10 to $23.30.

Prices for food and most other items have tripled in the last two years.

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